This Week’s Torah Portion | April 10 – April 16, 2016 – 2 Nissan – 8 Nissan, 5776

THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
Metzora (מצורע | Leper)
Torah: Leviticus 14:1-15:33
Haftarah: 2 Kings 7:3-20
Gospel: Luke 9:51-10:42

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A special portion for Shabbat HaGadol is read this Shabbat!
Shabbat HaGadol (שבת הגדול | The Great Sabbath)
Haftarah: Malachi 3:4-24

From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world.  This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.

We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel.  The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.

The readings for this week April 10-16, 2016 are called Metsora—“Skin desease/Leprosy.”

NOTE:  Because this is the Sabbath preceding Passover, the usual Haftarah (II Kings 7:3-20) is replaced by Malachi 3:4—4:6 (See Shabbat haGadol below).

TORAH:  Leviticus 14:1—15:33

HAFTARAH (Shabbat haGadol):  Malachi 3:4—4:6

As we wrote last week, after focusing on the importance of Israel’s being ‘set apart’ to God in a special way, of her distinguishing between the holy and unholy, the unclean and clean (Lev. 10:10)—both last week’s and this week’s portions continue in instruction of how this was to be worked out in everyday life.  There needed to be purification and atonement made for a mother when bringing forth children; there must be measures of isolation and testing taken for outbreaks of surface diseases or blights (both on physical bodies and on dwellings), and for contaminating discharges from the body.  And there was a way prescribed for restoration once healing had occurred.

When Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) came to be born in a stable, his mother Miriam (Mary) submitted to these same instructions for purification (Luke 2:22), and when it was time for the sacrifice, she and Joseph could only afford the humble offering mentioned here (Lev 12:8; Luke 2:24).  Yeshua’s coming was to “undo the works of the devil” manifest in all of these diseases, to bring atonement, redemption healing and cleansing. It is very significant that among his healing miracles, special mention is made of those involving lepers and a woman with an ‘issue of blood’.

PLEASE PRAY:  as those in synagogues this coming weekend hear these words which so graphically picture the presence and result of sin in our midst and man’s need for healing and being pronounced clean, that the Holy Spirit will convict of sin and righteousness and judgment, and draw Jews to seek cleansing through the One who washes white as snow!

HAFTARAH

SHABBAT HAGADOL

Malachi 3:4—4:6

The Sabbath preceding Passover  is called Shabbat HaGadol—the “Great Sabbath”.  It takes its name from Yom Yehovah haGadol v’haNorah—“The Great and dreadful day of the LORD”  found in Malachi 4:5 of the special Haftarah which is read on this occasion.  It is an important time for soberly “taking account” of the Day which is coming “burning like an oven”…but also for taking heart from God’s promise that “to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings!”

*Malachi 3:16-18.  “Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.  ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the LORD of Armies, ‘On the day that I make them my jewels.  And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’  Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.”  

This passage shows that believers who spend time with other believers in conversation characterized by the Fear of the Lord, and who also spend time meditating on the attributes signified by His name—these will be ones who are granted discernment so as to be spared the deception which will prevail more and more until the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:4, 11, 24; Daniel 8:25).

*Malachi 4:1.  “For behold, the Day is coming, burning like an oven…”

As darkness gathers (John 9:4; Daniel 12:1-3) we must as believers hold to each other, listening, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).  As the world refuses to wait on God’s command, drawing instead the fire of His wrath, another voice will be calling—“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the congregations . . .” (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9). 

Next week at seders around the world, Jews will put a glass of wine out on the porch “for Elijah.” At the end of the seder someone (often a child) will be sent out to see if he “came.”  It is a charming tradition—but one related to a very serious Word from God, who has promised that He will “send Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the LORD”  (Malachi 4:5). Yeshua (Jesus) affirmed that “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things” even though he had already “come” in the form of John the Baptizer, yet gone unrecognized.  However may be the ultimate form of his next coming, the awakened body of Messiah in the land of Israel is in great need of the discernment and power of the gifts and office of prophet which he represented.

PLEASE PRAY:  For the desire for and discernment of these gifts in Israel—and that this time their manifestation not be unrecognized!

“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy…For the testimony of Yeshua (Jesus) is the spirit of prophecy” (I Cor. 14:1; Rev. 19:10).

Passover and the Week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread begin Friday evening April 22nd.  There will be special readings on Passover day,  April. 23

The next in the regular cycle of Torah readings (Acharei Mot—“After the Death”) will continue on  May 7 in most nations.

The portion, Metzorah (The Leper), is dedicated to the rules concerning leprosy, and what to do when one has been infected with it. A leper who has healed must be examined by the priest, then bring two birds. The priest slaughters one bird and dips the other in clean water.

The end of the portion discusses the impurity of nocturnal ejaculation and the rules concerning a woman in menstruation—anyone who touches her is impure until the evening.

Commentary

Why are the rules in the portions described in such detail?

The whole Torah is an instruction by which to correct our nature. Man was deliberately created with an egoistic desire; this is why we want everything for our own good, as it is written, “For the inclination of a man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis, 8:21). Creation itself is the evil inclination, the sum of our negative qualities. The inanimate nature, the vegetative, and the animate around us are completely neutral—neither good nor bad. It is managed by the laws of nature that act instinctively on all its elements.

But man has free choice, and therefore uses the ego to others’ harm. Such is the software from which we are built. We constantly examine ourselves in relation to others—if we are worse or better off they are. This is how human nature constantly operates us with the thought, “How can I benefit myself or harm others?” One who does not see it is unaware of this law.

The Torah indicates and explains how to correct ourselves, how to transform us from a form that is the opposite of the form of the Creator, and into a corrected and complete form. This is why we cannot see the upper worlds, the upper force, the eternity and perfection we are in, and which is hidden from us. We can only see a tiny sphere known as “this world.” In this world there is nothing but a set time in which we exist, then leave, just like animals. We incarnate from above, descending from the upper world and back up, unaware of the rest of the stages in our development.

The Torah tells us how we can correct ourselves so we may begin to discover ourselves in our eternal and complete form. The Torah shows us how we should work in order to discover the eternal, perfect world, and exit the sensation of exile we are in, toward a good and enlightened world.

The two portions indicate all the corrections we must do. Tazria and Metzorah detail how one can correct the egoistic, corrupt signs we constantly discover in ourselves.

At that time a person is called a “woman,” though it may well be a man. It depends on whether one is in a state of reception or bestowal. If a person delivers out of oneself an act of bestowal, that person is called a “woman,” who delivers a child. Then a person is told what to do with all that did not come out in this act, called a “newborn.” Thus, those desires that he or she used but which still could not be corrected come out as blood, as various secretions, as it happens in a physical birth. After some time these desires return and become corrected on higher degrees.

Accordingly, after delivering a boy we undergo seven days of Tuma’a (impurity), a circumcision on the eighth, and the thirty-three days of purification. After delivering a girl we undergo sixty-six days of purification. These are special corrections. Once we have corrected these desires through a special act called Korban (sacrifice/offering), we perform an act in order to bestow in which we sacrifice, meaning bring ourselves closer to bestowal upon the Creator, according to the law of equivalence of form in order to become more similar to the Creator. This is how we progress another step in the correction.

Here the corrections are in the tiny revelations of all the forms of the egoistic desire, which appears through leprosy, and through other problems that encounter us in our homes and our animals, namely in all the degrees, meaning desires of still, vegetative, and animate.

The portion, Metzorah, details the corrections performed by the priest. We begin to discern forces in our inner structure that help us from experience—from previous corrections—to correct ourselves in all the qualities that appear as bad.

The portion speaks of a man who brings himself or his wife to the priest. The portion details how to correct the “dresses” over the soul, which are called “garments.” The clothing is called Ohr Hozer (Reflected Light) or Ohr Hassadim (light of mercy), meaning an intention to bestow. Although we are born with egoistic desires, if we “clothe” them with the aim to bestow and want to perform acts of bestowal, we will thus correct our “garments.” The highest degree in this correction is to clean the clothes and show them to the priest for his examination. This is the meaning of the relation between the degrees in the upper system.

In this manner we advance in our corrected desires toward the revelation of the upper world, as it is written, “You will see your world in your life.”[1]

We are constantly developing and discovering the world. We feel more and more included in something eternal and complete. A person lives in this world as an animate body, yet discover the eternal part within, which is called the “soul.” We identify with that part because it is much greater and more powerful than the animate part. That sympathy causes us to feel that our animate part is like a domesticated animal we keep in the yard, and it makes no difference whether it is dead or alive because the self, the human we have raised within, which we have built in similarity with the Creator, is as eternal and complete as Him.

All this is done through work by which we discover all that is still not “clean” in us. We clean ourselves from all the ill thoughts and intentions, which aim for our own benefit and to others’ detriment. With each correction and cleansing we become increasingly similar to the Creator.

The two portions are connected. One speaks of a quality called “woman,” and the other of a leper. What is a woman? What is a leper? And what is the connection between them?

In our perception, “man is a small world.”
[2] Within us is a special force that “paints” an image in the back of our minds, in our awareness and consciousness, that there is a world before us, outside of us. But if our senses suddenly stop working we will not perceive any world. If one of our senses disappeared, such as sight or hearing, part of our perception would disappear as well.

The world is a product of our senses, which depict within us a certain reality. That reality has nothing to do with what is actually happening outside. If we study animals that live near us we will find that they perceive our world very differently. A dog’s world, for example, is full of scents. Dogs perceive the world through their sense of smell. They have no problem discerning things using that sense. Snakes perceive their world through temperature, distinguishing each element with great accuracy. 97% of the perception of our world depends on our vision. Thus, each one has a different picture of reality, but it is still a picture of reality.

When we attain the perception of the actual reality, the sixth sense opens in us. We begin to see the upper force, the upper world alongside this world. The upper world is present here and now. We need not die in order to perceive it. Our death changes nothing in this case. Also, we begin to discover that the world is very different from what we previously imagined. This is why it is written about our world that it is imaginary: “I saw an upside down world.”[3]

We attain the true perception through all those corrections that appear in the portions before us, when we correct our desires into having the intention to bestow more and more. If we use our desires with the aim to receive, we constantly absorb everything our tiny and limited tools of perception depict for us. But when we come out of ourselves into the endless frequencies beyond those of our eyes and ears, whose range is very limited, we enter the sense called “in order to bestow,” the “sense of giving and love.” In that state we find an unbounded reality, as though we have emerged from our skin, as it is written, “After my skin they lifted it” (Job, 19:26). Then the reality we begin to see is not limited to the five physical senses, but is the actual reality, the upper world that the Torah describes.

In that new sense, what is a woman who delivers, and what is a leper?

A woman who delivers is a correction of one of the senses, thus achieving new attainment, new bestowal, in which we discover another new world. Yet, we cannot use these forces for correction in order to bestow, a limitation formed by the contrast in it. We perceive everything through opposites. As creatures, we always see one thing opposite another. When we have only one color, or something without an opposite, or something for which we have no scale by which to measure or compare, we cannot see or feel it. If there is no black and white situation, we cannot see black, white, or yellow.

The revelation of our correction is always under limitations. The boundary gives us a sense of orientation, that we are in something, gripping something. Otherwise we have no idea what is permitted and what is forbidden. In that state everything is completely amorphous and our sensations disappear.

The woman is the one who gives birth. The Creator could have created a man who can give birth; why did He create only women with the ability to give birth?

A woman is called the “will to receive.” The man is called the “intention to bestow.” Therefore, the man assists with the birth; it cannot happen without him. The man gives only a drop, from which the woman raises the newborn. The man begets only the will to receive through the correction he performs on himself. These corrections are called “nine months of labor.”

In Baal HaSulam’s book, The Study of the Ten Sephirot, as in the whole of the wisdom of Kabbalah, we learn about this form, in which we grow and put ourselves by ourselves into a complicated situation, the upper womb—a situation in which we can grow. We are assisting our growth inside the womb. It is great work that we do in order to adapt ourselves to the degree of the Creator until we are similar to Him, and then we are born. However, each of us has a personal reality, the stage of adulthood, opposite the stage of Katnut (infancy). The rest of the stages continue until we achieve the complete level.

So a woman symbolizes the will to receive and a man symbolizes the desire to bestow?

Yes.

Are matters arranged from above in a way that the will to receive is the only one that can deliver, while the man, who is bestowal, cannot?

The man provides the future form of bestowal. Were it not for the force of bestowal, the woman would not be able to deliver. If there is no expansion to the will to receive itself through the force of bestowal, it will not be able to give birth to anything.

The portion, Metzorah, deals with skin infections. Why specifically the skin, there are many other afflictions?

The skin is our place of scrutiny. Our desires consist of five degrees: Mocha (marrow), Atzamot (bones), Gidin (tendons), Bassar (flesh), and Or (skin). The Or desire contains seven layers; it is the final, crudest desire. This is why it is where we scrutinize our egoistic intentions, our ability to correct, and how.

We correct a part of the skin by writing a book of Torah on leather. There is a parchment of leather that we cut in the middle, and write the letters of the book of Torah on the outer part. We separate the part that cannot be corrected. This part will be corrected only at the end of correction, when there are no limitations and no letters. The actual revelation of the Creator is on the last, most egoistic degree that can be corrected.

Does leprosy symbolize inappropriate use of this concept?

Leprosy symbolizes the revelation of the boundary, the place of recognition of evil that a person corrects through the force within—the great force of bestowal called “priest.”

The Torah is dealing with a disease that is still today incurable.

All skin diseases are hard to cure. We suffer from them our whole life. It happens because the skin is the last degree of the body, so it is very difficult for us to influence it. We treat it as the ending of the body, an outer cover of our internal organs, but the skin is just like the heart, lungs, and kidneys. It is an organ in and of itself, which we have yet to comprehend.

When we weigh the skin we find it is the heaviest organ in the body. Also, we cannot live without it.

True. We can see it with the problems that people who suffered serious burns have. It is an offshoot of spirituality, where the corrections on this degree are the hardest. It is Malchut at its conclusion.

Is the skin “curable” or is it a chronic disease?

Only at the end of correction, when we have corrected everything, will we be able to correct the skin, as well. Then the light will shine in Aleph through the whole structure known as Adam, as well as inside the skin, in the letter Ayin.

From The Zohar: Two Live Birds

“He took for the purification two live, pure birds, and a cedar tree, and scarlet, and hyssop.” One who engages in the work of one’s master and engages in the Torah, the Creator is over him and the Shechina (Divinity) connects with him. When one comes to be defiled, the Shechina departs from him, the Creator departs from him, and all the side of Kedusha (holiness) of his master departs from him. Then the spirit of Tuma’a (impurity) and the whole side of Tuma’a are on him. If he comes to be purified; he is aided. Once he has purified and repented, what has departed him returns to him, and the Creator and His Shechina are on him.

Zohar for All, Metzorah (The Leper), item 18

This concerns a person who has come to be purified. The person brings two different birds, as well as part of a tree, through certain people. This is how we correct through our own forces, the desires that appear on the road to correction. Such people must discover the desires that require correction and correct them.

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Berachot, 17a.
[2] Midrash Tanchuma, Pekudei, item 3.
[3] Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Nezikin, Baba Batra, 10b; Babylonian Talmud, Masechet Pesachim, 50a.